New teleconferencing system to get workout with McCaskill forum

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 | 12:31 p.m. CDT; updated 7:30 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 6, 2009

COLUMBIA — Sen. Claire McCaskill will participate in a multicampus virtual roundtable on student financial aid on Oct. 23 using a new telepresence system in the University of Missouri System, UM System President Gary Forsee said Tuesday morning.

McCaskill will meet with Forsee and financial aid directors and enrollment managers on all four UM System campuses, system spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said. It will be the first high-profile use of the telepresence system since it was formally introduced on Sept. 28. The system, a network that connects the four campuses internally and to other facilities across the world, is meant to foster collaboration.

It's also available for use by anyone on campus for free.

Hollingshead was unable to confirm whether the discussion will be open to the public. Maria Speiser, McCaskill's press secretary, was unable to confirm the event is occurring. But Forsee deemed the event important enough to include in a keynote address at the Internet2 member meeting in San Antonio.

In remarks carried over the Internet, Forsee spoke about the importance of using networking technology to foster collaboration among researchers and connect UM services, including health care, to constituents across the state, particularly in rural areas.

The UM telepresence system, manufactured by Cisco Systems Inc., is a high-definition video teleconferencing network, which Forsee described in his address as a "key asset." He estimated that it has already saved the UM System a half-million dollars in travel costs.

Telecommunications offers the opportunity to establish new revenue streams, Forsee said, and enhance collaborations with the business world. AT&T Inc. and Cisco, previously described by MU as “strategic advanced technology partners,” provided equipment, technical support and networking for the telepresence system. Executives from both companies joined Forsee via teleconference for the unveiling.

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